Tag Archives: USA election

Once upon a time……

They have always been there, of course, but over the last few months  the “personal narrative” has become increasingly prominent in political reporting, particularly in USA.  Squeezed between ‘style and substance’, or is it ‘policies and personality’, there is the narrative, the story.

You have McCain’s narrative of five years as tortured prisoner, Obama’s humble mixed race background and, most tellingly,  Sarah Palin’s story, already several novels’ worth. In terms of coverage these stories are creating more attention than the policies, perhaps because they are more interesting ?

Apparently the Republican and Democrat campaign managers are finding it harder than ever to control their messaging where the free for all blogger environment is reducing the effectiveness of paid air-time. One tactic is to create controversial television commrecials but rather than air them commercially, rely on news and blogging ‘channels’, which prefer stories, to do the distribution job.

There is  nothing new in this. The famous “Labour isn’t working ” poster, created by Saatchis some thirty years ago, ran for a few weeks only, on a dozen poster sites.  It became the story.  Picked up by all the news media, long before blogging,  its impact  on the election was immeasurable.

In any pitch storytelling compels.

Sarah Palin, the body language counts

The Presidential election in the USA is boiling up nicely to be one of the political pitches of all time, certainly as a media spectator sport. Obama versus Clinton was a cliffhanger, with style, just, winning out over substance. The, seemingly last minute, addition of Palin to the McCain ticket is already overshadowing that earlier battle.

Until quite recently it seemed the Obama style and charisma would carry the day. He, seemingly without effort, puts into practice the concepts illustrated here. But so does Sarah Palin!

As this ”baked Alaska“ (!) pie chart shows, the way we respond to communication is such that only 8% is purely down to the verbal content. The rest of our response is formed by the non-verbal, tone and visual. It’s not what you say, it’s the way you say it.

For this argument’s sake, let’s ignore the political content, and think of the contest only in the terms of this chart. Then, it seems to me that the combined ‘body language count’ of McCain, calmly heroic and Palin, feisty, fearless plus female, outscores that of Obama, the orator and Biden, recycling Kinnock.

Until, of course , the next dramatic revelation.